Thursday, May 17, 2018

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 13 No. 19 (Issue #637)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

(If this column looks askew in your email, click here for an online version.)

QUICKIE QUIZ: What pair of horses will have more eyes on them Saturday than any other horses in the world? (a) Justify and Good Magic (b) Storm and Tyrone (c) Beastie and Busty. Answer at bottom of column.

Wear Jets gear tomorrow to win buffets!
Play the races while you watch Jets on TV!

(Arctic Ice Hockey photo)

With the Winnipeg Jets playing the Las Vegas Golden Knights tomorrow night in Las Vegas, you’ll not only receive 5X the usual Player Rewards for all wagers tomorrow but, also, IF YOU WEAR JETS GEAR TO LIVE RACING AT 7:15 you’ll get into a draw to win ONE OF TWO RACE NIGHT BUFFETS FOR TWO! (Go to Guest Services to show off your fandom before live racing begins.)

Bullet briefs . . .

  • Tomorrow's live card features three 11-horse fields! (And wear your Jets gear)
  • Long weekend of racing action tomorrow and Saturday 7:15; Monday 1:15
  • Escape Clause awarded two Horse of the Year titles; owners cited as "tops in region"
  • The Beatles and Kiss blow away media throng at press conference. What?
  • Will Good Magic upset Justify in the Preakness Stakes if track is dry?
  • What's early money and how can you spot it? See Marshall's segment


  • Wear Jets gear tomorrow night to have a chance to win one of two race night buffets for two
  • During live racing enter draw for free bets and after races enter draw for free VLT spins
  • On Saturday, enter draw for Triple Crown souvenir glass sets and enter $100 First & Worst contest.
QX104 � Today's Country

Official stations of horse racing.
Click to listen

94.3 The Drive

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Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are running in May? Find out here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.
Want to follow sports in the Race Book? Jets

FREE VLT TOURNAMENTS AFTER LIVE RACING: Enter in the Club West Gaming lounge following live racing. Get into the draw for 10 chances to win $20 in free VLT spins. Top winner from each night participates in a month-end finale for more spins and $250 in prize money.

EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT: $10 buy-in poker in the trackview gallery on the third level. Registration 7:30 p.m. Game starts at 8:00 p.m. The Royal Flush progressive jackpot for Friday, May 18, is $6,360.


"It doesn't get any better than this"

Escape Clause voted Horse of the Year both for racing and for Manitoba breeding

Manitoba Jockey Club president Harvey Warner (centre) makes Jockey Club of Canada presentation to 2017 leading regional owners (from left) Phil Allard, Pat Beavis, Barry Arnason and Don Schnell, owners of Horse of the Year Escape Clause.

It came as no surprise that Manitoba-bred filly Escape Clause was honoured as 2017’s Horse of the Year at the annual HBPA/CTHS awards banquet in the Finish Line banquet hall last Friday. She won both on the racing side and on the breeding side as Manitoba-bred Horse of the Year.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,”
said part owner Barry Arnason in accepting the award on behalf of owner/trainer Don Schnell and the True North owners Phil Allard and Pat Beavis.

Not since Liz’s Pride in 1978 has there been a Manitoba filly who showed Escape Clause’s talent, winning seven of eight races and finishing second to Plentiful in the Manitoba Derby. She then went to Alberta where she tackled and beat horses bred in B.C. and Alberta.

See 2017 awards in all categories, both on the racing side (HBPA) and the breeding side (CTHS) here.



An opening day rarity

Every race had a different winning jockey, trainer and owners

Candy Giant sweeps from sixth at 12-1; anchors $5,304 pick-4

Did you notice? In an extremely rare occurrence, every one of the seven races on opening day for live racing Sunday had a different jockey, trainer and owners.

Not so rare—but certainly unusual for seven short races of 5f--was the fact that only one race was won gate-to-wire and that was a field of three horses after other horses in the race were scratched. Opening day for the past 10 years had an average of three races won by the horse getting the lead.

With early speed horses faltering and closers dominating, only one correct $1 pick-4 ticket was sold, winning the lucky player $5,304.

The pick-4 in the last four races included:

  • Race 4: Lady Cloud $9.60 – closed from 6th
  • Race 5: Okaad $9.30 – closed from 7th
  • Race 6: Starship Mischief $16.50 – closed from 4th
  • Race 7 Candy Giant $27.10 – closed from 6th
Will the off-the-pace trend continue when racing resumes tomorrow at 7:15, then Saturday at 7:15 and holiday Monday at 1:15? Have a care!

*        *        *

Hottest jockeys:
Richard Mairs, Renaldo Cumberbatch, Antonio Whitehall, Stanley Chadee, Jr., Domingo Chacaltana, Tim Moccasin, Paul Francis (1 win)
Hottest trainers:
Tom Gardipy, Jr..Don Schnell, Fred Rawson, Francis Meza, Jamie Hartmann, Jerry Gourneau and Eurico Martens (1 win)
Biggest longshot: Candy Giant $27.10 (race 7) 
Biggest 20-cent superfecta: $1,770 (race 7) 
Stakes champion(s): nil (First stakes race goes Saturday, the Intercontinent)

*        *        *

"Fan of the Day" fun debuts

Retired accountant gets to watch race in Winner's Circle and meets retired race horse

Fan of the Day Kathryn Woodard meets What Say Lou ridden by outrider Laura McIvor

On a gorgeous Mother’s Day afternoon with more than 7,000 in attendance at the Downs--including lots of kids hitting the bouncy gyms, pony ride area and petting farm—retired accountant Kathryn Woodard was the first fan of the race season to be drawn to be named Fan of the Day. Brought to the track by her daughter to celebrate Mom’s Day, she delighted in posing for selfies with retired Manitoba-bred race horse What Say Lou, a pony horse ridden by veteran outrider Laura McIvor.

She also received a framed photo of her memorable experience. Fan of the Day will be a regular feature during the 50-day race season as will three draws for $20 in bets on a self-serve betting terminal. The entry form is near the front of the race program.


Did you know . . . that True North was a prominent stakes-winning chestnut gelding in the 1940s whose name was given to the True North Handicap that will be run at Belmont Park in New York next month? And that a Northern Dancer stakes-winning gelding was also named True North in 1966 as was a B.C.-bred mare in 1985? For those outside the loop, True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd,, is the company that owns the Winnipeg Jets which is why Jets fans yell “True North” when those words in Canada’s national anthem, O Canada, are sung. Will their ears perk up when horses are led onto the track for the True North Handicap?


"C'mon baby, twist and shout"

The Beatles, Cher, Bon Jovi, Kiss and other tribute artists blow away media

With CEO Darren Dunn at the podium in front . . .

. . . guests are surprised when the curtain behind him opens to reveal "The Beatles"

Kiss and Tragically Hip tribute artists work the crowd

Assiniboia Downs is well-known around town for its over-the-top press conferences that feature a gourmet brunch – but the media throng last Thursday afternoon was totally unprepared for the mother of all ASD press conferences when the curtain behind speaker CEO Darren Dunn opened to . . . can it be? ….. The Beatles playing Twist and Shout?

They sure looked like them, anyways. And they’re supposed to. They were members of a Beatles tribute band that will be one of nine featured tribute acts who will be performing in a concert appropriately dubbed Unreal on Sunday, Aug. 5, the Manitoba Derby long weekend. (The Derby goes holiday Monday, Aug. 6.)

Hear John Lennon’s humorous intro to Twist and Shout and the song here.

Other performers will pay tribute to the music of Cher, the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Kiss, AC/DC, Elvis Presley, Keith Urban and the Tragically Hip ………

Dressed in the garb worn by the original performers, the mimic acts had the joint jumping. The announcement about the Unreal show followed Dunn’s flashbacks to past Manitoba Derbies as the Downs counts down to the 70th Derby in August. See the cover of the race program for pictures of past Derbies including the first one in 1930.

Other activities at the Unreal festival will include meet and greet, food trucks and a dazzling fireworks display to cap the event. Early bird tickets start at $40 and are available at



Will Good Magic turn the tables on Justify?

My prediction: Yes, if the track comes up fast

Enter draw Saturday to win one of 6 sets of Triple Crown glasses

Kentucky Derby winner Justify is the prohibitive choice to win the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland late Saturday afternoon. But I haven’t lost faith in Good Magic who was my “in the money” horse for the Kentucky Derby.

The problem, though, is the weather. Rain is predicted for all this week including Saturday and Justify obviously liked the slop at Churchill when he won the Derby. That sets up for a likely Good Magic-chasing-Justify scenario again.

In trying to beat Justify, I’ll likely play superfectas that have Good Magic first or second and Lone Sailor third or fourth wheeled with ALL in the other positions. The likely winning superfecta is Justify wheeled to Good Magic wheeled to Lone Sailor in the third and fourth positions.

Good luck in your tickets.

There will be six draws for four-glass Triple Crown collections and a $100 First & Worst contest to predict the first and last place finishers in the Preakness.

The “I won big” group will play the superfecta in the Preakness Stakes as well as the pick-5 and pick-4 ending in the Preakness. Only a Funny Duck kept the group from scoring big in the Kentucky Derby. Will the Preakness Stakes complete the mission? The group is overdue. (Group plays at Woodbine last week resulted in just $71 in winnings when favourites won four of the six races and the other two legs were won by near-favourites.) See you at 10:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza!

Mitch Janzen

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to Mitch Janzen and his ONTrack Media crew—and to ASD hosts Rob MacLennan and Kirt Contois--for their professional production of the 2017 horsemen’s awards at the $45-a-plate annual banquet Friday night at the Downs, a stark contrast to the widely panned $425-a-plate Eclipse Awards—the “biggie” in North America--at Gulfstream Park in January.

to all the recipients of 2017 awards at Friday’s banquet and good luck and good racing to everyone in the 2018 season! See the winners of all awards here.

Agent Dave Brockhill and jockey Richard Mairs partner to win race one

A BIG SHOUT-OUT to well-known horseplayer Dave Brockhill who, in his inaugural race as agent for jockey Richard Mairs, came up a winner. It was the season opener, race 1 Sunday, where Mairs piloted Thisladyisadiamond. Brockhill is handling book for a new jockey as well, Arthur Budhu. Mairs has been riding at the Downs for two years. His record last year was 124-9-17-23 with his most important victory coming aboard Aniar in the $25,000 Manitoba Mile Stakes. The year before that, he won the Hazel Wright Sire Stakes with Quest Essential and the DeCat Overnight Stakes aboard Magic d’Oro. A jockey’s agent receives 25 per cent of a jockey’s earnings. Brockhill’s friends in the Race Book wish him well!

Tips ’n’ Tricks

with Marshall Posner

Q: What does early money refer to and how do I spot it?

This is an interesting topic I often get asked about. Early money refers to horses that are receiving initial betting support especially in the first couple of clicks of the odds board. Some players religiously follow odds trends while others chose to ignore them altogether. Personally, I think paying attention to early money is relevant in a couple of specific situations. First, in a wide-open maiden race with lots of first time starters. You may get a clue as to which horses are the likely runners. Second, if a 15-1 morning line horse in a full field opens with early money, that horse may be ready for a big effort.

What if there SHOULD be early money but there isn’t? When a horse looks like a standout and is dropping in class without any recent activity and should be opening at 3/5 but opens at 3/1, beware! Smart money is staying away from this “sure thing” and so should you!

Note that early money is often only relevant at larger tracks where the early pool sizes are large enough to make the odds relevant. Be sure to check the pool sizes before reading between the lines on the odds board and thinking you’ve spotted an early-money horse. You can always quickly check the pool sizes on HPIbet (view image here) as well as review the betting intervals to determine odds trends and betting patterns until post time (view image here).

Got a question for Marshall? Email

HISTORY ON THE HOOF: From concentration camp to jockey

What are the odds of a child surviving three years in a Russian concentration camp where his weight falls from 115 to 48 pounds making a successful career as a jockey?  Can’t be good, or can it?  One of the Downs leading riders did just that, and won 4,000 races lifetime including the Queen’s Plate!  Any ideas?  Bob has the details in this week’s blog here.


  • Poker runs simultaneously with racing

    Tomorrow: First Friday night of live racing at 7:15 and first $10 buy-in poker tournament running simultaneously in the Trackview Gallery on the third floor. Register at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 19: Royal wedding early in the morning, the Preakness Stakes—second jewel in the Triple Crown—in the afternoon and the first Saturday of live racing at 7:15 with the first stakes race of the meet, the Intercontinent.
  • Monday, May 21: Victoria Day holiday with racing at 1:15. Free family fun events including pony rides, petting farm and bouncy gyms.
  • Friday, May 25: Live racing continues 7:15
  • Saturday, May 26: Live racing at 7:15
  • Wednesday, May 30: First Wednesday of live racing at 7:15. Wed-Fri-Sat racing kicks in.

ANSWER TO QUICKIE QUIZ (correct answer is “b”)

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